Oh, Catherine Keener, you really aren’t fooling anyone as the uptight, New York lawyer that you are portraying in this film. Especially when you see that your hippie mom is played by the forever gorgeous Jane Fonda and it’s inevitable that you will end up a hippie by the end of the film. Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding is the story of a mother that gets the bomb dropped on her that her husband wants a divorce. Instead of staying and fighting for the relationship, she flees to her mother’s home in “Woodstock country” with her two almost grown children. The plans are to spend a weekend away from it all before going back to face all the paperwork. She ends up staying more than a week and in that time, she, her college-age daughter and high-school son all manage to miraculously fall in love.
As predictable and perfect as this film is, it is still quite enjoyable. Keener (The 40 Year Old Virgin) does a good job of portraying the troubled mom that has spent her life being uptight but may be ready to let go of that sandbag in order to find new love. Her daughter, played by Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) plays the ever cliche vegetarian, tree hugger that makes us all look bad. She is into literature, organic foods and humane acts toward animals. So of course, she falls in love with a butcher. The younger high-school son is busy filming everything from the moment he arrives because he strives to be like Werner Herzog. He is constantly filming the outing to Grandma’s house and actually makes a short film out of the week. He also grabs the attention of a smart, young girl around his age and they flirt and kiss. Not to ruin the entire plot for you but even though Keener’s character is on holiday from her pending divorce, she grabs the attention of the ever so smokey Jefferey Dean Morgan, who can literally sweep any woman off her feet with a wink and a smile.
It is in this blooming relationship that the film flourishes. It is in this relationship that we see Keener’s character change and the main issue come to light. Now Jane Fonda is probably the savior in this film. She plays the retired hippie grandmother that still protests the war every Saturday and occasionally deals pot on the side. Fonda’s character, Grace, is the purest form of a hippie. She attempts to fix her grand-children’s woes with sorcery and old wives’ tales. She even goes so far as to let her grandchildren smoke pot out of her own hooka with her. Is she responsible? Does lawyer mom just need to lighten up? These are issues that are only lightly touched on in the film.
Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding is a film that really centers on family. The core value it tries to project is that family is forever, no matter the location. The family grows close with the grandmother, whom they hadn’t seen for the previous twenty years, and everything ends exactly as you would expect. There is nothing really wrong with this storyline. I love a good hippie story, but it was a little predictable and too perfect. How convenient is it that on the first night in their grandma’s town, all three new patrons find love? I won’t ruin the end for you, but it’s pretty cookie cutter as well. I still enjoyed the film, none the less. The acting was phenomenal, the scenery kept my interest and the characters were intriguing enough to keep me interested up to their final scene.
There is nothing directly wrong with Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, but it too closely resembles so many films I have seen in the last two years. I believe that for most of the cast, this was an excellent choice, but for Keener and Morgan, they are completely capable of casting themselves in better roles. Although the film left me with a smile and a happy sense about me, I still found myself wondering why this film exists. It is a good film and worth at least one watch, but could it be better? Yes.
I give Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding 3 “hookas” out of 5
by Angela Davis